Jayasuriya appointed Sri Lanka’s interim head coach

Sri Lanka
Sanath Jayasuriya, the former Sri Lanka captain, will be their interim head coach through a home limited-overs series against India and an away Test tour in England, which ends mid-September.

He has not previously held a high-profile coaching position, but has been Sri Lanka men’s chief selector as well as cricket consultant for Sri Lanka Cricket – the role he held till the fresh appointment.

This decision from the board comes in the wake of Chris Silverwood’s resignation from the role at the end of June, after the conclusion of the T20 World Cup 2024. SLC chief executive Ashley de Silva had said then that the board would advertise for the role, as well as seek out candidates it thought suitable. He’d also said Sri Lanka may choose a local coach for the role.

On Jayasuriya’s appointment, de Silva said, “Sanath with his wealth of international cricketing experience is well positioned to guide the national team, until we find a permanent solution.”

Jayasuriya had, in fact, been with the men’s team during their World Cup campaign in the USA and the Caribbean in his capacity as consultant. That role was the first he held officially since his two-year ban for refusing to co-operate with investigations related to corruption, run by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit.
His tenures as chief selector had courted controversy for other reasons too – he had been accused of showing preference to a player connected to the then government, in which he was a deputy minister, as well as of fielding too many players during a period of stagnating results for the team.

Jayasuriya had also been director of cricket of the Dambulla franchise for the 2023 season of the Lanka Premier League, where he had overseen various areas for the franchise, including strategic planning. In 2022, he had been team mentor for Kandy Falcons in a season in which the Falcons had suffered defeat in the playoffs but won seven of eight games through the league stage.

His most recent post with the national side as cricket consultant had meanwhile seen him take on a more hands-on approach, and he was understood to have been an active member of the think tank during Sri Lanka’s campaign at the recent World Cup. It is a role, however, that over the past few months had seen overlaps with that of Mahela Jayawardene’s position of consultant coach; Jayawardene resigned from the post last month stating that the team’s decision-making was “no longer fully aligned” with his.

Jayasuriya was one of Sri Lanka’s most beloved cricketers of the nineties and aughts, having helped revolutionise white-ball cricket with his aggressive batting at the top of the innings. He remains the fifth-highest ODI run scorer of all time, with 13,430 runs. He also has 323 ODI dismissals, making him the 12th-highest wicket-taker in the format. This is in addition to considerable exploits across 110 Tests and 31 T20I as well.

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